‘Crutch words’ we often misuse


Like: Usually inserted to provide time to think, this 'verbal tic' often becomes an involuntary habit like an 'um'. Its proper use describes something of the same form, appearance, kind, character or amount.

Obviously: This word is often applied to non-obvious things, like "Obviously he should have thrown the ball to third base."

Actually: Many insert this unconscious verbal tic to add punch to a statement even though it rarely adds meaning. E.g. I actually disagree.

Literally: This adverb restricts an action to the strict sense, but many incorrectly use it in a hyperbolic or figurative sense, like "I literally sprinted 100kms".

Basically: The 'crutch' use attempts to add authority and finality to a statement, but basically should signal truth, simplicity and confidence.

Honestly: Although it is supposed to assert authority or express incredulity, this overused word rarely adds honesty to a statement. "Honestly, I have no idea why he said that."

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